In 2018, David Xiao hiked the 4,300 km Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. (Submitted)

Albertan climber with ‘heart as big as his smile’ plummets to his death in Glacier National Park

David Xiao died climbing Mt. Sir Donald near Rogers Pass

Two days before his 26th birthday, climber David Xiao fell to his death on Mt. Sir Donald in Glacier National Park.

On Aug. 16, at approximately 8 a.m., Parks Canada said it received a report of an injured climber on the mountain’s northwest ridge.

Shelley Bird, Parks Canada spokesperson, said a helicopter search located Xiao’s body, which likely fell 250 metres. It’s the first reported major incident this year in Glacier National Park.

READ MORE: Vancouver man dies in climbing fall in Glacier National Park

Sir Donald is a classic alpine route. Although exposed, it’s commonly climbed unroped. Friends say it looked like Xiao grabbed a large loose boulder, causing him to lose balance and fall.

Xiao was born and raised in China, having moved to Canada several years ago.

According to a written tribute by his friend Taylor Adolphe, Xiao not only yearned for adventure but lived to share those adventures with others.

“It wasn’t just the climb, but the people he did it with that mattered,” said Adolphe.

It was his smile and welcoming demeanor that drew people in.

“He lit up the room,” she said.

“He had a heart as big as his smile.”

Xiao worked as an actuary and when he wasn’t playing in the mountains, Adolphe said he was diligently reading online resources, asking experts and practicing climbing rescue systems, both in the kitchen and a nearby city park.

While Sir Donald is not an easy mountain and not one to be underestimated, Adolphe said Xiao had all the tools to accomplish it.

“Mountains are so beautiful yet so unforgiving, a battle that unfortunately many alpinists and climbers are all too familiar with,” she said.

David Xiao in the Bugaboos a week prior to his death. (Submitted)

Although he lived in Calgary, Xiao had just bought a house in Canmore.

His first trip in the mountains was in Grade 10 on a popular hike called Nihahi Ridge in Alberta.

“Even though I thought I was going to either die of exhaustion or exposure the whole time, I was in love,” wrote Xiao on his blog Trailing Adventures.

Since then, Xiao got into long-distance hiking, backcountry skiing and climbing.

On his blog, Xiao wrote adventure is about discovering the unknown, such as the endless slippery scree slope that journeys to incredible views, the freezing rain that ends in a field of flowers and the shivering cold nights that lead to incredible sunrises.

“Those things keep us adventuring through the nightmares because we have experienced the beauty that comes with tribulation and the unknown,” he wrote.

David Xiao on the summit of Ha Ling near Canmore earlier this year. (Submitted)

Adolphe said Xiao wanted his new Canmore home to become a connecting point for people, to host friends and plan adventures.

Xiao had previously hiked the 4,300 km Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada. There, he earned the trail name Squish, because he accidentally stepped on a toad.

A week prior to his death, Xiao climbed the Kain Route on Bugaboo Spire, one of Canada’s most iconic alpine climbs. Adolphe said it was his proudest alpine achievement.

“David may have chosen a trail less traveled in life, but one he fully embraced and would not have had any other way,” said Adolphe.

She said friends and family find solace knowing he left the world doing what he was most passionate about.


 

@pointypeak701
liam.harrap@revelstokereview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Death

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Central zone down to 19 active COVID-19 cases on Thursday

Provincially, 158 new COVID-19 cases were identified

Rimbey Municipal Library extends concert series

Curbside Concerts will now go until the middle of August in Rimbey

Wolf Creek Public Schools receive $2.5 M for COVID costs

Funds will largely go towards PPE and additional cleaning, sanitizing

Blindman Valley Lions refresh Lockhard Hall’s ‘Field of Dreams’

Many have hosted their family reunions, weddings and camping parties at this beautiful country location

Wolf Creek Public Schools receive $2.5 M for COVID costs

Funds will largely go towards PPE and additional cleaning, sanitizing

Alberta’s top health official says province is not in a second wave of COVID-19

Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday that Alberta had identified 158 new cases in the province

Sylvan Lake woman says Town’s response time to concerns isn’t enough

Glenda Jackman says it took almost a month for the Town to act on her complaint about a playground

Ermineskin Kindergarten has a confirmed case of COVID-19

The school has shut down and Cohort 2 is in self-isolation

Hundreds die from opioid overdoses in Alberta as COVID-19 pandemic hit

Jason Luan said the province is not alone in seeing a rise in deaths,

Wetaskiwin/ Camrose RCMP conduct a joint forces initiative with Camrose Police Service

The multifaceted joint forces initiative with on Sept. 23, 2020 proved very successful.

Alberta politicians reject throne speech

Premier Kenney disapointed with lack of support for Alberta energy

‘Won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving:’ Trudeau says COVID-19 2nd wave underway

In all, COVID-19 has killed about 9,250 people in Canada

Most Read